x Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 16 January 2018

Blaze in flat kills toddler and her brother

Grandmother jumps from fourth floor after failed rescue attempt.

SHARJAH // A two-year-old Nepalese girl and her elder brother were killed and two other family members seriously injured when fire swept through a four-storey flat in Sharjah early yesterday. The girl, who died from smoke inhalation, was identified by police as Kinoor. She was believed to have been in her bedroom when the fire broke out in the morning.

Her brother Ramesh, 26, suffered severe burns as flames engulfed the flat while neighbours tried to put them out with buckets of water. The grandmother of the victims, Kidder Kumar, 64, suffered serious burns and a fractured back and hip when she tried to save Kinoor, then jumped from the fourth floor to save her own life. Ms Kumar was in a critical condition in the Kuwaiti Hospital in Sharjah. A second child, believed to be Kinoor's sister, was also in intensive care after escaping from the burning flat in the building on Jamal Abdul Nasser Road.

Their father, Kailash, and their mother, Kalpana, had left for work and were not in the flat when the fire started. Sharjah Civil Defence said the fire might have been started by a faulty electrical circuit in the air-conditioning system. But residents said the flat was full of lamps, which were all lit to celebrate the Diwali festival of light when the fire began. Mohammed Khalim, a resident of the building, said he saw the children's grandmother jumping from the flat.

"We pleaded to her not to do it, but she eventually did it when she saw fire spreading to her room," Mr Khalim said. Residents said more than 10 family members lived in the three-bedroom flat, which was gutted. Essa Ahmed, a 17-year-old from the next building, said he saw thick smoke coming from the building as he left for school at 7.30am. He rushed in and knocked on doors to raise the alarm. "I saw fire but there was silence along the building," Essa said.

"No one seemed to know what was happening. All the people were still sleeping." He was later joined by a policeman who kicked in the door of the burning flat. "The whole flat was dark with smoke," Essa said. "I couldn't believe my eyes but the police guy brought a bucket of water... and we managed to remove one girl from another room that was not so much on fire. "The girl had inhaled much smoke. We pulled her out and soon police ambulances were there and took her."

Uthuman Ahmed, another resident of the building, said it had no fire extinguishers or fire-fighting equipment, and people had relied on buckets of water to fight the fire before firemen arrived. "I have been in this building for more than 10 years. "It's one of the oldest on the road, without firefighting equipment and even the lift is not working," Mr Ahmed said.